Oskanian Discusses Karabakh Policy During Parliament Briefing

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia will not seek independence for or unification with Nagorno-Karabakh at this stage but may take "unilateral" measures to ensure the region’s security–should Azerbaijan embark on a massive military build-up in the coming years–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said on Friday.

"If we see that Azerbaijan spends most of its income on weapons and gets stronger–we will not watch and wait but will consider taking unilateral steps including the unification with Nagorno-Karabakh," Oskanian told hearings held by the Armenian parliament’s committee on foreign affairs.

He repeated Yrervan’s position–supported by the Nagorno-Karabakh government–that the future status of the disputed region may fall short of outright independence but should be higher than that of a conventional autonomy.

He said unlike their predecessors that agreed to "de-facto independence–de-jure autonomy" for Nagorno-Karabakh–the present Armenian authorities stand for the formula of "de-facto independence–de-jure not part of Azerbaijan." Oskanian said with this position–the Armenian side offers serious "concessions" to Azerbaijan that should respond accordingly. In his words–mediators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe seem to be returning to so-called package peace deal that would settle all contentious issues by a single comprehensive treaty. He said the co-chairs of the OSCE’s Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh will formally unveil their new peace proposals after the October 11 presidential election in Azerbaijan.

The previous OSCE plan called for a phased settlement of the decade-long conflict.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s foreign minister–who also spoke during the hearings–confirmed Oskanian’s claim that there are now no differences in the positions of Yerevan and Stepanakert.

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